The War on Women backfired big-time on November 6, an infographic, ItsaWaronWomen.com,was just released to count the ways.
The casualties of the war, and the winners, are now plainly visible: Candidates advocating extremist positions on abortion and rape, like Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana, lost otherwise winnable races. The concerted efforts of Tea Party Republicans to restrict women’s reproductive rights and ignore their demands for equal pay for equal work resulted in 55% of women for President Obama, ensuring his re-election.
A record 20 women will now take up seats in the Senate in January, including the first openly gay Senator (Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin) and the first women Senators from Hawaii (Mazie Hirono) and Massachusetts (Elizabeth Warren).
A record 77 women (also pending final confirmation) will serve in the House of Representatives.
New Hampshire, meanwhile, will become the first state in US history to boast an entirely female congressional delegation as well as a female governor, Maggie Hassan.
“The election has underscored a simple fact of life: you can’t row against the tide of history and expect to get very far,” said Allyson Kapin, founder of Rad Campaign, the web agency who produced itsawaronwomen.com. “Women may still be represented more poorly in the political arena than they are in America as a whole, but they are catching up fast, and the reactionary politics of the War on Women is only hastening their progress."
“Congressional Republicans who have been working aggressively to suppress women's rights – attempts House Democrats have not protested with nearly enough vigor — have not gone unnoticed and voters used their vote to send a clear message that the War on Women will not be tolerated.”
Shortly before this year’s election, Rad Campaign commissioned a poll showing that the War on Women resonated with many more constituencies than just liberals and feminist activists. Those saying they believed women’s rights were under assault included 54 percent of female Independent voters and more than two-thirds of Black men.
Rad Campaign’s hard-hitting ItsaWaronWomen.com infographic accompanying the poll is a comprehensive walk through the many legislative battles, including laws that have been introduced and passed. Despite passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, we are still waiting on the Paycheck Fairness Act and the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
One telling statistic from the election was the “gender gap,” the margin by which women preferred Obama plus the margin by which men preferred Romney. It rose to 18 percentage points this year, well up from the 12-point gap in the Obama-McCain race of 2008.
In the wake of the election, even conservatives like Carrie Lukas of the Independent Women’s Forum agree that women’s rights issues resonated widely with the electorate. “This should be a wakeup call for everyone on the right,” she wrote at the National Review Online the day after the election. “I count myself among those who assumed — clearly wrongly in hindsight — that the ‘war on women’ rhetoric wouldn’t work.”